Hey, you’re doing the right thing. If you’re reading this, it (hopefully) means you’re practicing social distancing and working to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and you’re helping to stop the healthcare system from getting overrun and spread. Thank you and we here at PTW are proud of you. Keep fighting.
With that said, you’re going to need some stuff to watch. We can help with that. We here at PTW are going to drop a watch list on you guys every so often to help get you through this time and remind why you loved wrestling. Each list is going to have a unifying theme or gimmick to keep you entertained, and we would love to talk about it with you.
Use #PTWWatches on the ole Twitter machine to send out your thoughts, comments, compliments, grievances, shade and whatever chicanery you’d like to throw at us.
This list’s theme is WrestleMania 36 throwbacks. The card for WrestleMania 36 is all but complete, and we thought it would be fun to dive through the dredges of YouTube and the WWE Network to remind you of some of the forgotten matches that feature this year’s competitors and, sometimes, smile at the funny way history tends to echo itself. So pop a squat, make sure you’re at a safe distance from anyone else in your domicile, and let’s watch some damn rasslin’!
Kevin Steen (Kevin Owens) vs. Tyler Black (Seth Rollins): IWA Mid-South, 5/18/2006
WrestleMania will be far from Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins’ first encounter with one another. Before they were battling for the soul of Monday Night Raw, they were both can’t-miss prospects on the independent scene in the mid to late 2000s and shared a ring many, many times. One such instance was this match from 2006 in IWA Mid-South, a notable independent company that was a home to the likes of CM Punk, Colt Cabana, Sami Zayn, and Kassius Ohno, and also hosted the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and AJ Styles. Kevin Owens, then going by his real name Kevin Steen, and Seth Rollins, going by Tyler Black, fit comfortably amongst those names. This rare gem features the two future WWE Universal Champions clashing in all their independent glory. Power moves are aplenty. Transitions come by means of roll-ups. Storylines are scarce. And there’s probably 15 springboard moves. It’s wonderful.
Randy Orton vs. Edge: WWE Vengeance 2004
Edge and Randy Orton have been rivals for over 15 years. They are two of the greatest characters WWE has ever had, and whether they were on separate brands, feuding, or even united as a tag-team, the dastardly exploits of the two were always at the forefront of WWE programming. Their undeniable talent complemented the chemistry they had together in the ring, and they tended to steal any show on which they were matched up against — perhaps none more so than their clash for the Intercontinental Championship at Vengeance 2004. Orton was in the middle of his ascension up the card as part of the fabled Evolution, while Edge was struggling to regain his footing after coming back from a neck injury and cervical spinal fusion that kept him out of the ring for an entire year. It was a crucial time in both men’s careers and this instant classic helped prove to audiences that they were deserving of the spots that they were destined to have. Let these two master storytellers wrestle you a tale while you get excited for their Last Man Standing Match at WrestleMania.
Shayna Baszler vs. Sara McMann: Invicta FC2, 7/28/2012
Ever wondered why Shayna Baszler’s strikes and grapples look so real? Ever wonder why her psychology and her selling are so on point? And do you ever squirm and cringe whenever Baszler seemingly contorts someone’s extremities to the point of tendon rupture? It’s because she was an MMA fighter and hurt people for money. Here’s one such example. Watch Shayna 2-time take down her opponent a multitude of times, marvel as she busts out a knee-bar just because, and get excited for her match with Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. Do also pay attention to the commentator — you may recognize the voice. Mama Mia!
Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya: NXT TakeOver 5/29/2014
Charlotte Flair won this year’s Royal Rumble and, surprisingly, chose to face current NXT Women’s Champion, Rhea Ripley, for the NXT Women’s Championship. The occasion brings Charlotte Flair full circle. Flair’s reputation and athletic prowess preceded not only her, but also NXT as a whole. Before NXT was widely available on the WWE Network in the United States, rumblings about her feats in their women’s division sent shockwaves through Reddit and internet forums everywhere. It wasn’t until the rise of the WWE Network that the entire wrestling world took note of Charlotte Flair, and it hasn’t turned away since. Charlotte’s win against Natalya to become the NXT Women’s Champion was a watershed moment for her career and she now finds herself seeking to replicate that feat against Rhea Ripley, a women who has very much mirrored her career trajectory. Watch Flair defeat Nattie to start her ascent to becoming the “Queen of the WWE.”
AJ Styles vs. Sting: TNA Bound For Glory 2009
AJ Styles is phenomenal, and not just for his in-ring prowess, his athleticism, and his ability ability to hit a 450 Splash from anywhere, no. AJ Styles is phenomenal for his storytelling. And so, while many of us are apprehensive about his proposed “Bone Yard Match” with The Undertaker at WrestleMania, take a look at his match with Sting. Watch how AJ Styles takes the limitations of Sting’s age and turns it into an advantage as he frames the match around Sting’s offense, and uses this dynamic to tell the story of a newly-minted champion fighting to prove his mettle against a standard bearer of the industry. I dare you to talk to me about reservations regarding AJ Styles vs. Undertaker after watching this match.
The Miz and John Morrison vs. D-Generation X: WWE Raw, 11/3/2008
The Miz and John Morrison didn’t really have a direction in 2007. The Miz had outlived his expected six months of usefulness, John Morrison had just returned from a wellness suspension, and were meandering about on WWE’s version of ECW. So WWE did what they tend to do when they are creatively bankrupt: make a tag team! But little did the WWE powers-that-were anticipate that they were creating one of WWE’s most memorable duos. Morrison and The Miz instantly gelled together, became a can’t-miss fixture on WWE programming, and, frankly, propelled their careers to heights never anticipated for either. They now enter this year’s WrestleMania, some thirteen years after first becoming a tag-team, as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions to defend their titles. Take some time to appreciate Miz and Morrison at their peak as they face off against DX, and watch how these two future world champions (if you count Morrison’s win in Impact Wrestling) cement their status as one of WWE’s top acts.
El Generico (Sami Zayn) vs. Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan): PWG Giant-Size Annual #4
You know Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins used to hang out on the independent scene back in the mid 2000s? Well, Daniel Bryan and Sami Zayn did too, but they went by Bryan Danielson (D-Bry’s real name) and El Generico (probably not Zayn’s real name). But before they were fighting over the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, the two frequented independent promotions all across the nation and produced can’t-miss classics filled with suplexes, stiff kicks, and submissions — none more so than their clash at PWG’s Giant-Size Annual in 2007.
This match is so good that…well, that it’s almost impossible to watch in its entirety unless you have the DVD kicking around somewhere. We couldn’t find a full version of the match, BUT….we found this lovely highlight video that someone made on iMovie and it’s exactly what the internet wrestling community would produce in 2007. It’s got abrupt transitions between high spots, it completely ignores any semblance of pacing and structure to emphasize brutality, and it haphazardly sets the proceedings to a Breaking Benjamin song that in no way reflects the thematic underpinning of this match. It’s beautiful and it will remind of all those nights in high school you stayed up till 2 a.m. watching these types of videos while posting on GameFAQs about how John Cena can’t wrestle and hoping that person from your English class would respond to your IM about going to the movies on Saturday.
What do you think? Did we get all the good stuff or did we miss something? Was there a better Edge vs. Orton match we forgot about? Did you find a better Generico vs. Danielson highlight video that used a Fall Out Boy song? Yell at us using #PTWWatches and let us know what you think!
Bonus: A happier time between Daniel Bryan and Sami Zayn.
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